Mills students have been anxious since Oct. 6, when the President’s Office sent an alarming email informing students that the Mills administration had “began conversations to consider deepening Mills’ long-standing partnership with UC Berkeley.” The email seemingly referred to Berkeley’s need to expand and Mills’ lack of financial sustainability, claiming that the goal of an expanded partnership between the two institutions “is to sustain the socially-driven mission of Mills College and enable UC Berkeley to serve more California undergraduate students.” Worried students swarmed the virtual town hall with many questions on their minds, namely this: were UC Berkeley and Mills merging?
The town hall, run by Dean Chicora Martin and Provost Chinyere Oparah, was chaotic and frustrating; many students’ questions were answered insufficiently and in a vague manner. Even though the town hall was largely to address what students had already been referring to as the merger, most of the 45-minute town hall was spent waxing poetic about Mills’ other programs. When students were finally able to express their fears that Berkeley would be buying Mills, and thus Mills would go co-ed, their concerns were met with vague, evasive responses or were outright brushed off. When asked outright whether Mills would go co-ed, Dr. Martin didn’t answer but instead quipped about how the original meaning of the word “co-ed” was an institution that accepts women, and so, in a way, Mills is already co-ed. They did, however, make sure to emphasize that it is important to the mission of Mills to prioritize people who have been marginalized in the classroom due to their gender.